Success Stories: California’s Teen Birth Rate Declined 46 Percent Over 15 Years
In 1992, the teen pregnancy rate in California was 41 percent higher than the national average. But significant public and private investments and sustained bipartisan support led to dramatic declines over 15 years. Between 1991 and 2006, California’s teen birth rate declined by 46 percent, faster than any other state and outpacing the national rate of 32 percent. The results are attributable to significant public and private investments that were strategically designed to raise awareness, expand services, and target specific high-risk populations and communities.
Deep and sustained private sector commitment.
Beginning in 1995, the
California Wellness Foundation
invested $60 million over 10 years in a multi-faceted
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative
. Investments supported research, public education and policy advocacy, professional development and leadership recognition among youth-serving professionals, and community grants to support direct services at the local level. The initiative included a comprehensive evaluation (PDF), which promoted continuous improvement through the duration of the investment.
Public Investment in proven programs. Over three gubernatorial administrations (two Republicans and one Democrat), California invested public dollars in research-based policies and programs for positive adolescent development and teen pregnancy prevention. Publicly funded programs targeted outreach to teens at high risk of pregnancy (including those who were already parenting, in foster care, homeless, and siblings of teen parents), provided comprehensive sex education, and expanded teens’ access to family planning, contraception and reproductive health services. Key programs include the Community Challenge Grant Program, the Information and Education Program, and the Family PACT (Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment) Program.
A cost-benefit analysis found that by reducing public health and welfare expenditures resulting from unintended pregnancies, every dollar spent on Family PACT saved the public sector $4.30 from conception to age two and $9.25 from conception to age five.